In the not-so-distant past of American politics, lying about oneself, even amongst Republicans, was seen as a political liability. It was a liability that, if bad enough, could sink campaigns and get longtime politicians removed from office. Since Donald Trump's presidency, that paradigm has changed dramatically; Republicans are now eager to envelop themselves in untruths, wearing them like a badge of honor – a trend that's still picking up in breathtaking fashion from the latest slate of pro-Trump candidates running to represent their states as attorneys general, secretaries of state, governors, and U.S. senators.
No candidate has quite embraced the habit so shamelessly as former NFL running back Hershel Walker, who is seeking to represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate. Walker, who has no political experience, has a complete distaste for truth, boasting with an entire Wikipedia section devoted to his history of falsehoods. Over the past several months, the Republican candidate has lied about his education, his employment history, his experience in business, and much, much more. Just this week, Walker was mocked after claiming that he used to be both a police officer and an FBI agent. (Spoiler: He was neither.) To paint a fuller picture of his dishonesty, Salon has compiled some of Walker's most bizarre and despicable fabrications to date.
1 Walker falsely claimed that he was an FBI agent and a police officer
In the past, the ex-NFL star has said that he served as both an "honorary deputy" in Cobb County, Georgia as well as an FBI agent. In a 2017 speech, he specifically stated, "I work with the Cobb County Police Department." And in 2019, Walker similarly told an audience, "I spent time at Quantico at the FBI training school. Y'all didn't know I was an agent?"
But according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Cobb County Police Department has no record of Walker's employment. The department has also said that his alleged status as an "honorary deputy" was meaningless and compared it to having "a junior ranger badge."
It is true that Walker spent a week in an FBI training program in Quantico, Virginia. However, in order to become an FBI agent, candidates must possess a college degree, which Walker lacks, even though he's said otherwise.
2 Walker falsely claimed he graduated from the University of Georgia
In December 2021, Walker's campaign website alleged that the former athlete graduated from the University of Georgia, which he actually left during his junior year to play football professionally. However, that claim was shortly removed from the campaign's website after the Journal-Constitution inquired about its veracity.
CNN later found that Walker had been bandying this falsehood since as early as 2008, telling people that he graduated in the top 1% of his class.
As he stated in a 2017 speech, "And all of sudden I started going to the library, getting books, standing in front of a mirror reading to myself. So that Herschel that all the kids said was retarded become valedictorian of his class. Graduated University of Georgia in the top 1% of his class."
Likewise, in a promotional bio for his 2008 book, Walker claimed to have "finished his Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice at the University of Georgia."
3Walker falsely claimed to own a drapery business
As early as 2016, Walker has said that he owns a drapery company, which he recently claimed employed 250 people.
"I started this little [inaudible] drapery company, where I still have about 250 people that sew drapery and bedspreads for me," the former football player told an audience back in February. At one point, Walker went so far as to claim that he owned "the largest upholstery company in the United States."
But according to The Daily Beast, it's not apparent that Walker owns any such business. And after reviewing numerous corporate filings, the Beast found that Walker has no financial connections to Renaissance Manufacturing or Renaissance – the two businesses to which he might've been referring.
4 Walker has inflated the size and success of his food business
In October, Walker said in a podcast, "I own a food company – that's going to freak you out – I own the largest minority-owned food company in the United States." By his account, that company, Renaissance Foods, has over 100 employees and rakes in $70 million in annual sales.
But Walker's business did not feature in Black Enterprise magazine's list of the biggest 100 black-owned firms in America, as the Beast noted. And in the Payment Protection Plan (PPP) application back in April 2020, the company indicated that it only employs eight workers.
5 Walker has overstated his role in a veteran support program
For years, Walker has stated that helped create Patriot Support, a for-profit program designed to support veterans struggling with mental health issues. But a recent Associated Press investigation found that Walker has vastly overstated his role in the program. Despite alleging that he helped create it, Walker is only a paid spokesman for Patriot Support, whose corporate sponsor, Universal Health Services, paid him a salary of $331,000 last year.
Prosecutors investigating Universal Health Services have also alleged that the Patriot Support was part of a systematic effort to push "those with government-sponsored insurance into inpatient mental health care to drive revenue," as the Associated Press reported. The company reportedly "pushed staff at its mental health facilities to misdiagnose patients and falsify documents in order to hospitalize those who did not require it," and in other cases, refused to discharged patients from the hospital who no longer needed support.